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NGOs and unions unite behind call for urgent phaseout of fossil fuel production in Aotearoa in new Oxfam report

While the Government plans new oil and gas exploration, Oxfam Aotearoa has published a new report saying it’s time to close the industry down for good.

Released on COP28’s Just Transition Day, ‘Closing Time’ shows how fossil fuel expansion would put New Zealand out of step with climate science and at risk of embarrassment amongst our diplomatic allies. But, the report says, there’s another option – a just transition and a full, fast, fair and funded phaseout of fossil fuels.

The report’s endorsers include the Council of Trade Unions, Greenpeace, WWF-New Zealand, ActionStation, 350 Aotearoa, Generation Zero, Parents for Climate Aotearoa, OraTaiao, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, the PSA, Common Grace Aotearoa, Protect Our Winters, ECO, Environment Hubs Aotearoa, Climate Action Network Australia, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, and Oxfam in the Pacific.

Report author and Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry says:

“Our report shows that right now in Aotearoa, our oil and gas production is already declining at the rate we need to do an average share of the global phaseout needed for 1.5 degrees. To do our fair share we need to move faster, closing existing fields early. Keeping the course for 1.5 degrees is critical for our Pacific family who are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst.

“New Zealand has a unique opportunity to show global leadership here. Unlike many countries that still rely heavily on fossil fuels, we export most of the fossil fuels we produce – and with a clear just transition plan and investment, most of the rest could be quickly replaced with renewables. We absolutely can and should have a full, fast, fair and funded transition away from fossil fuel production in Aotearoa.

“The Government’s plans to overturn our ban on offshore exploration would be a costly mistake that would harm New Zealand’s international reputation and put our economy on the wrong track – with disastrous outcomes for our communities, our environment, and our climate. They also make us look hypocritical.

“Less than a month ago, New Zealand signed on to a declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum that said we were “committed to the transition away from coal, oil and gas in our energy systems”, and agreed we’d “aspire to a Just and Equitable Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.”

“So, it’s worrying to see the Government getting ready to roll the welcome mat back out to the fossil fuel industry, with promises of a new oil and gas boom – not to mention digging ourselves into a hole with the suggestion of new coal mining.

“Instead, our Government could be playing an active role in scaling up renewables and planning a just transition.

“Ultimately, global fossil fuel phaseout needs to be just that, global. We all have to do our bit, and the science tells us there’s no room for any country to go looking for new fossil fuels to exploit. While we might be a small country, we can have a disproportionate influence – we need to use that influence to stand strong with our Pacific family, not to keep serving polluting punters when it’s past closing time.”

The new report also reveals:

· Globally, the oil and gas in currently active fields would take us past 1.5 degrees of global warming. 58% of the fossil fuels in currently developed fields and mines must stay in the ground to keep within 1.5 degrees.

· New Zealand’s fossil fuel exports are small but cause disproportionate harm. Coal and oil combined made up only 1% of New Zealand’s exports in 2022 but produced emissions equivalent to more than 9% of the rest of our economy.

· Delaying the transition will only add to the problem of stranded assets and increase costs, including disruption to workers and communities.

· Getting our electricity grid off fossil gas must be a top priority for Government, as it’s the only remaining connection between fossil fuel production and energy security in Aotearoa (with all oil and most coal being exported).

Comments from endorsing organisations:

Alva Feldmeier, Executive Director of 350 Aotearoa

“Oxfam’s report comes at a critical time to remind the incoming Government of the need for a Just Transition away from fossil fuels and the importance of keeping to the 100% renewable electricity target set by the previous government. The report highlights how important the government’s role is in ensuring that the just transition is serving workers, the communities impacted by the extractive industries as well as the climate and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“Political election promises and populist politics cannot be used to jeopardise the future of the Pacific Islands and generations to come. The climate movement will fight tooth and nail to keep the ban on new offshore oil and gas permits in place and demand further action from the Govt to usher in the era of community-led Renewable Energy.”

India Logan-Riley, Climate Justice Organiser at ActionStation

“This report draws attention to the colonisation of Indigenous peoples, the commodification of Indigenous lands, and the carbonisation of our atmosphere. It sketches out the relationship where these injustices, the exploitation of workers, and the destruction of nature, are dispossessing a future for the generations that come. It aptly names this the fossil economy.

“And importantly, the report offers much-needed details and stepping stones in a just transition for everyone in the fullness of Te Tiriti.”

Glen Klatovsky, Chief Executive Officer of Climate Action Network Australia

“In Australia we have seen the devastation of the fossil fuel industry. Our nation is experiencing catastrophic climate impacts while contributing massively to the cause. All nations like ours must stop fuelling the fire. No more coal, no more gas, no more oil.”

Tim Jones, Coal Action Network Aotearoa

“An urgent just transition from coal, oil and gas use is essential. We must not go backwards, and this report provides a clear, evidence-based path that Aotearoa can follow.”

Richard Wagstaff, Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions

“Delivering a just transition for New Zealand, away from fossil fuels while maintaining great jobs across Aotearoa, will also help shift us towards a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy and society. New Zealand has a great image around the world for being a clean and green nation, one that cares for its environment and its future. It’s time to make that rhetoric a reality.”

Cath Wallace, Vice Chair of ECO

“ECO welcome the analysis in this report that the best way forward from our climate crisis and dependence on fossil fuels is to establish an economic system that is more considerate of environmental consequences and harms to people. We agree that the science is clear that an early end to fossil fuels extraction and use is essential.

“The report illuminates the structural problems Aotearoa New Zealand faces with the economic model and the injustices that we have inherited. Allowing further oil and gas exploration and exploitation will not only cost us dearly but lead to a huge burden of stranded assets, liability for the government and taxpayers for unabated emissions, and ongoing harm from climate destabilisation. The government must govern for all and resist the fossil fuel vested interests.

“Encouragingly, this report suggests a more environmentally focused policy within the foundations of the country and Te Tiriti will save environmental harms, reduce greenhouse emissions and the costs they incur, and provide greater justice.

“Importantly, the government needs to recognise that any fossil fuels future will mean New Zealand will have to pay dearly for emissions we allow and do not abate with his financial, social and biodiversity costs.”

Georgina Morrison, Executive Officer of Environment Hubs Aotearoa:

“Aotearoa New Zealand will be further harming its people and environment if we don’t urgently switch to more sustainable energy sources. Phasing fossil fuels out is paramount to meet our emissions targets and to protect our people and environment from even worse climate-related events”.

OraTaiao – New Zealand Climate and Health Council

“OraTaiao strongly supports a rapid phaseout in fossil fuel production in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. The health benefits that will accrue from a well-designed switch away from fossil fuel use, such as improved air quality and reduced physical inactivity, will be additional to the harm avoided by limiting global heating to 1.5deg C. Known global fossil fuel reserves are in excess of what we can use if we are to keep to our climate obligations and there is absolutely and categorically no place for reopening offshore fossil fuel exploration in Aotearoa New Zealand’s waters. A sustainable, healthy and equitable future does not have fossil fuels as a part of it.”

Alicia Hall, Founder and National Co-Coordinator of Parents for Climate Aotearoa

“Parents for Climate Aotearoa strongly endorse ‘Closing Time’. Around the world and here in Aotearoa, countless whānau are struggling in a cost of living crisis and are deeply concerned about climate change. Some of these families are also dependent on employment in fossil fuel industries. Phasing out fossil fuels is crucial to ensuring our tamariki thrive in a safe and healthy climate – and a Just Transition will ensure we can make this change in a way that looks after these families and isn’t detrimental to their wellbeing.”

Marian Krogh, Lead Advocate at Protect Our Winters:

“The burning of fossil fuels right now is resulting in shorter winters, causing glaciers in Aotearoa and worldwide to melt, and for mountain town economies to struggle. Fossil fuel exploration is ruining our climate, winters, glaciers, and mountain towns for future generations. How can we achieve our climate reductions agreed in the Paris accord if we keep mining fossil fuels? We can’t. We already have plenty of fossil fuel reserves that can’t be burned. Aotearoa’s outdoor community says no to further exploration for oil, gas, and coal. A full, fast, fair, and funded phase out of fossil fuels is needed, alongside a just transition to renewable energy.”

Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-New Zealand

“The Government owes it to all New Zealanders – and our neighbours in the Pacific who are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change – to consign fossil fuels to history and accelerate a just transition to renewable energy.

“Overturning New Zealand’s ban on new offshore oil and gas will not only hamper New Zealand in our efforts to meet our climate commitments, but it will pose significant risk to our relationships in the Pacific, our status as an export nation, and to our international credibility more broadly.”

Notes:

Click here to read the full report: https://www.oxfam.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Closing-Time-Report-Oxfam-Aotearoa.pdf

For interviews contact Ben Ryder, 022 310 2765 / ben.ryder@oxfam.org.nz

Richest 1% emit as much planet-heating pollution as two-thirds of humanity

The richest 1% of New Zealanders cause double the consumption emissions of all 2 million people who live in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati, combined.

The richest 1 percent of the world’s population produced as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the five billion people who made up the poorest two-thirds of humanity, reveals a new Oxfam report today. This report comes ahead of the UN climate summit in Dubai, amid growing fears that the 1.5°C target for curtailing rising temperatures appears increasingly unachievable.

“This report confirms the shocking truth, it is the super rich who are harming the climate with their extravagant lifestyles and irresponsible investments in dirty industries, not the low-income communities in Aotearoa and the Pacific who are facing the worst of the climate crisis.” said Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry.

Data from Oxfam’s global research shows that for Aotearoa New Zealand:

• The richest 1% of New Zealanders, 48,000 people, cause double the consumption emissions of all 2 million people who live in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati, combined.

• A single New Zealander in the richest 1% causes as much climate damage as 149 people from Kiribati.

• The richest 1% of New Zealanders cause more consumption emissions than 30% of the population with the lowest incomes, combined. This 30% are already consuming less than the global limit to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees.

“The injustice of the climate crisis is driven by economic injustice and inequality, where the rich take far more than their fair share of the world’s resources. We know that New Zealand is consuming too much fossil fuel and other resources compared to our neighbours in the Pacific, but this report shows it’s the richest New Zealanders who are causing the problem, not low-income communities in Aotearoa,” said Henry.

“The rich need to reduce their impact. The rest of us need collective solutions that improve our lives while reducing our emissions. Taxing the rich can help with both.”

Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%” is based on research with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and assesses the consumption emissions of different income groups in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available. The report shows the stark gap between the carbon footprints of the super-rich —whose carbon-hungry lifestyles and investments in polluting industries like fossil fuels are driving global warming— and the bulk of people across the world.

• The richest 1 percent (77 million people) were responsible for 16 percent of global consumption emissions in 2019 —more than all car and road transport emissions. The richest 10 percent accounted for half (50 percent) of emissions.

• It would take about 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99 percent to produce as much carbon as the richest billionaires do in a year.

• Every year, the emissions of the richest 1 percent cancel out the carbon savings coming from nearly one million wind turbines.

• Since the 1990s, the richest 1 percent have used up twice as much of the carbon we have left to burn without increasing global temperatures above the limit of 1.5°C than the poorest half of humanity.

• The carbon emissions of richest 1 percent are set to be 22 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement in 2030.

Climate breakdown and inequality are locked in a vicious cycle —Oxfam has seen first-hand how people living in poverty, women and girls, Indigenous communities and Global South countries are feeling the unequal brunt of climate impacts, which in turn increase the divide. The report finds that seven times more people die from floods in more unequal countries. Climate change is already worsening inequality both between and within countries.

Governments can tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change by targeting the excessive emissions of the super-rich, and investing in public services and meeting climate goals. Oxfam calculates that a 60 percent tax on the incomes of the richest 1 percent would cut emissions by more than the total emissions of the UK and raise $6.4 trillion a year to pay for the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Oxfam is calling on governments to:

• Dramatically reduce inequality. Oxfam calculates that it would be possible, through a global redistribution of incomes, to provide everyone living in poverty with a minimum daily income of $25 while still reducing global emissions by 10 percent (roughly the equivalent of the total emissions of the European Union).

• Get off fossil fuels quickly and fairly. Rich countries are disproportionately responsible for global warming and must end oil and gas production correspondingly faster. New taxes on corporations and billionaires could help pay for the transition to renewable energy.

• Prioritize human and planetary well-being over endless profit, extraction and consumption. Stop using GDP growth as the measure of human progress.

Notes to editors:

Download “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%”, the Oceania regional briefing, and the methodology note. The Stockholm Environment Institute’s Emissions Inequality Dashboard is also available for consultation.

Oxfam has launched a global petition to Make Rich Polluters Pay.

According to Our World in Data, road transport accounts for 15 percent of total CO2 emissions.

According to SEI’s research, a person in the bottom 99 percent emits on average 4.1 tons of carbon a year. Richard Wilk and Beatriz Barros’ study of 20 of the world’s billionaires found that they emitted on average 8,194 tons CO2 equivalent per year. This includes all greenhouse gases, so when converted to CO2, this is approximately 5,959 tons CO2. 5,959 divided by 4.1 is 1,453.

Oxfam’s research has shown that the investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of CO2e each year —the equivalent of France— at an individual annual average that is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90 percent of humanity.

Oxfam water engineers are having to drill deeper, more expensive and harder-to-maintain water boreholes used by some of the poorest communities around the world, more often now only to find dry, depleted or polluted reservoirs. One in five water boreholes Oxfam digs now is dry or unfit for humans to drink.

According to the UN, more than 91 percent of deaths caused by climate- and weather-related disasters over the past 50 years occurred in the Global South. Evidence shows that inequalities between rich and Global South countries are already 25 percent larger than they would be in a world without global warming.

Contact information:

Ben Ryder, Media and Communications Coordinator 022 310 2765 / ben.ryder@oxfam.org.nz

Starvation as weapon of war being used against Gaza civilians

Starvation as weapon of war being used against Gaza civilians – Oxfam

Just 2 per cent of usual food delivered to Gaza since siege imposed

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war against Gaza civilians, Oxfam said today as it renewed its call for food, water, fuel and other essentials to be allowed to enter. The international agency analysed UN data and found that just 2 per cent of food that would have been delivered has entered Gaza since the total siege – which tightened the existing blockade – was imposed on 9 October; following the atrocious attacks by Hamas and the taking of Israeli civilian hostages. While a small amount of food aid has been allowed in, no commercial food imports have been delivered.

As the escalation of the conflict extends to its 19th day, a staggering 2.2 million people are now in urgent need of food. Prior to the hostilities, 104 trucks a day would deliver food to the besieged Gaza Strip, one truck every 14 minutes. Despite 62 trucks of aid being allowed to enter southern Gaza via the Rafah crossing since the weekend, only 30 contained food and in some cases, not exclusively so. This amounts to just one truck every three hours and 12 minutes since Saturday.

Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Regional Middle East Director said: “The situation is nothing short of horrific – where is humanity? Millions of civilians are being collectively punished in full view of the world, there can be no justification for using starvation as a weapon of war. World leaders cannot continue to sit back and watch, they have an obligation to act and to act now.

“Every day the situation worsens. Children are experiencing severe trauma from the constant bombardment, their drinking water is polluted or rationed and soon families may not be able to feed them too. How much more are Gazans expected to endure?”

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare and as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel is bound by IHL obligations to provide for the needs and protection of the population of Gaza. In 2018, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2417, which unanimously condemned the use of starvation against civilians as a method of warfare and declared any denial of humanitarian access a violation of international law. Oxfam said that it is becoming painfully clear that the unfolding humanitarian situation in Gaza squarely fits the prohibition condemned in the resolution.

Clean water has now virtually run out. It’s estimated that only three litres of clean water are now available per person – the UN said that a minimum of 15 litres a day is essential for people in the most acute humanitarian emergencies as a bare minimum. Bottled water stocks are running low and the cost of bottled water has already surged beyond the reach of an average Gaza family, with prices spiking fivefold in some places. A spokesperson for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNWRA) pointed out that some of the food aid allowed in – rice and lentils – is useless, because people do not have clean water or fuel to prepare them. A series of airstrikes have left several bakeries and supermarkets either destroyed or damaged. Those that are still functional, can’t meet the local demand for fresh bread and are at risk of shutting down due to the shortage of essentials like flour and fuel. Gaza’s only operative wheat mill is redundant due to the power outages. The Palestinian Water Authority says Gaza’s water production is now a mere 5 per cent of its normal total, which is expected to reduce further, unless water and sanitation facilities are provided with electricity or fuel to resume its activity.

Notably, essential food items, like flour, oil and sugar, are still stocked in warehouses that haven’t been destroyed. But as many of them are located in Gaza city, it is proving physically impossible to deliver items due to the lack of fuel, damaged roads and risks from airstrikes.

The electricity blackout has also disrupted food supplies by affecting refrigeration, crop irrigation, and crop incubation devices. Over 15,000 farmers have lost their crop production and 10,000 livestock breeders have little access to fodder, with many having lost their animals. Oxfam said that the siege, combined with the airstrikes, has crippled the fishing industry with hundreds of people who rely on fishing losing access to the sea. Oxfam is urging the UN Security Council and UN Member States to act immediately to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further. And is calling for an immediate ceasefire, unfettered, equitable access to the entire Gaza Strip for humanitarian aid, and all necessary food, water, medical and fuel supplies for the needs of the population to be met.

ENDS.

For more information and interviews, please contact:
Roslyn Boatman (Tunisia) +216 29076086 / roslyn.boatman@oxfam.org
Lisa Rutherford (UK) +44 (0)7917 791 836 / lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editor:
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data on food deliveries to Gaza prior to the siege can be found here – this includes both humanitarian food aid and imports
OCHA updates show that a total of 62 trucks of aid have been allowed to enter Gaza via the
Rafah crossing from Saturday 21 – Tuesday 24 October.
Saturday 21 October – 20 trucks entered via Rafah, 5 of which contained food.
Sunday 22 October – 14 trucks entered via Rafah, 12 of which contained food.
Monday 23 October – 20 trucks entered, 11 of which contained food.
Tuesday 24 October- 8 trucks entered, 2 of which contained food.
UN Security Council resolution UNSC 2417 – Protection of civilians in armed conflict

G20 skates over the big issues of poverty, inequality and climate

In response to the G20 communique, Oxfam says: ‘The G20 has failed to meet the huge challenges our world faces. They continue to stumble away from taking the bold actions necessary to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change after an uninspiring and underwhelming Summit in India this weekend.” 

“New Zealand needs to do our bit towards the global effort to end fossil fuels and support vulnerable communities with climate finance” said Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry.

“Our Government should be moving faster on a just transition to end production of fossil fuels in Aotearoa.”

“New Zealand should be committing to increase funding to support communities in the Pacific and around the world adapt to climate change and respond to the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis.”

One bright light at the G20 was its invitation of a permanent seat for the African Union. Oxfam says the AU must flex this new power as a genuine counterweight within a platform dominated by countries that are historically responsible for stripping the continent of its resources. “This is long-awaited good news,” said Oxfam in Africa Director Fati N’zi-Hassane. “The G20 could now be a more effective multilateralism instrument, provided it is not used to further influence African Union members toward a Global North agenda.  

“The AU must resist the siren’s calls for short term profit, as inequalities continue to grow inside the continent, and keep pushing to decolonize international financial systems. The AU can play a meaningful role on the G20’s debt relief initiative, for instance, and hold rich countries more accountable now for their many empty commitments, such as failing to spend at least 0.7% of their Gross National Income on development. The AU is in a stronger position to ensure that this promise, and many others, are never broken again,” N’zi-Hassane said.

On climate change, G20 leaders leave the Summit with no change to their plans of maintaining their greenhouse gas emissions to levels in 2030 at least double what they should be to stop a rise in global temperature above 1.5 °C. While we welcome language that the G20 aspires to enhance efforts to triple renewable energy capacity, it comes without any plan to actually amend existing policies and targets in order to achieve it. More renewable energy is insufficient without reducing waste and inefficiency, and without a clear commitment to phase out oil, gas and coal – this they failed to do. While recognizing the need for $4 trillion a year to pay for a green energy transition, the G20 refused again to offer any concrete pathway toward it. 

“The richer G20 countries had a choice. On the one hand, climate catastrophe. On the other, to drastically reduce their emissions and provide sufficient levels of climate finance to the Global South. They leave New Delhi having chosen catastrophe with their eyes wide open. If G20 countries do not agree to change their positions on these issues, they are guaranteeing failure at the COP28 conference in Dubai,” said Oxfam Climate Change spokesperson Ashfaq Khalfan.  

On inequality, tax and devlelopment finance: 

“The gap between the rich world and the rest is growing faster than at any time since World War Two,” said Oxfam Inequality spokesperson Max Lawson. “By 2030, low and middle-income countries face a $27 trillion black hole to pay for climate-related loss and damages, measures to help adapt to climate impacts and to reduce emissions, along with their health, education and social protection needs.  The G20 didn’t even pony up a fraction of this.’ 

“The money can easily be found if the G20 choose to look. Higher taxes on the mega-wealthy could raise at least $1.1 trillion, and taxes on the huge windfall profits in the fossil fuel, food and other sectors could raise another $1 trillion. Across the world hundreds of millions do not have enough money to feed their children, and whole nations are facing bankruptcy. The G20 must tax these corporate fat cats and their billionaire owners to feed the world and stop climate breakdown.’ 

‘Despite the clear logic and rationale, the G20 failed to do anything to increase taxes. However, it looks likely that Brazil will make inequality and taxing the rich a key part of their G20 presidency next year.  This would be a real breakthrough.’ 

 

CONTACT 

Rachel Schaevitz/Oxfam Aotearoa/ rachel.schaevitz@oxfam.org.nz

Millionaires, economists, and eminent politicians implore the G20 to tax the super-rich

In the last decade, billionaires around the world have more than doubled their wealth, from $5.6 to $11.8 trillion. We need a global push to increase taxes on the richest citizens back to past levels that most people believe were fairer and more useful for society. Without this adjustment, extreme wealth and inequality will continue to skyrocket.

A report released in April 2023 by the Inland Revenue Department found that the effective tax rate of the wealthiest families in New Zealand is 9.4%. This is less than half the rate of middle wealth New Zealanders which is at 20.2%.1 One of the main reasons for this disparity is the fact that a large proportion of the income earned by these wealthy individuals stems from capital gains, which is not taxed in New Zealand.2 The report focused on the tax rates of 311 families in Aotearoa with a net worth of over $50 million, and highlighted the glaring inequality in wealth distribution which is being exacerbated by the current tax system.

These findings reiterate the findings in Oxfam International’s 2022 Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index where New Zealand had a very low ranking of 136 out of 161 countries in terms of the tax system’s contribution towards inequality.3 This means that the tax system in Aotearoa is among the world’s least effective in reducing inequality.

Following the release of the IRD report, over 230 wealthy New Zealanders signed an open letter calling on the politicians of New Zealand to tax them more. They stated “We would willingly pay more tax to help lift families out of poverty and ensure everyone thrives – an investment that would pay off many times over.”4 This letter was coordinated by Oxfam Aotearoa and Tax Justice Aotearoa.

Shalomi Daniel, Economic and Gender Justice Lead for Oxfam Aotearoa explained, “the people of Aotearoa need a better tax system that alleviates, and does not perpetuate inequalities. We need a tax system that reduces poverty and inequality and ensures that everyone, and not just a wealthy few, has access to nutritious food, warm housing, quality healthcare and education for their children”

In an open letter to the G20, close to 300 millionaires, economists, and political representatives from almost all G20 countries call for a new international agreement on wealth taxes to “stop extreme wealth from corroding our collective future”. It says that people all over the world are “desperate for change”.

“Much work has already been done. There is an abundance of policy proposals on wealth taxation from some of the world’s leading economists. The public wants it. We want it. Now all that’s missing is the political will to deliver it. It’s time for you to find it.”

“The findings in these reports on income and tax inequality in Aotearoa are deeply concerning. But despite public polling showing clear support for decisive tax interventions to address this crisis, in the lead up to the election this year we’ve seen very little appetite from the main political parties to address this issue” says Rachel Dobric from Oxfam Aotearoa.

Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and former Managing Director at BlackRock, said: “The leaders of the world’s largest economies must coordinate swift and decisive action to reduce dangerous levels of inequality; if they fail to tax extreme wealth, the results will be a perpetually weakened global economy, the decline of democratic institutions, and worsening social unrest. The G20 must act.”

The open letter was organized by inequality campaigners Patriotic Millionaires, the Institute for Policy Studies, Earth 4 All, Millionaires for Humanity, and Oxfam. The full list of signatories here.

Tax and wealth facts⁵

  • Only 4 cents in every dollar of tax revenue comes from wealth taxes.
  • Since 2020, the richest 1% have captured almost two-thirds of all new wealth. Billionaire fortunes are increasing by $2.7bn a day.
  • For every dollar of new wealth gained by someone in the bottom 90%, one of the world’s billionaires has gained $1.7m.
  • Half of all millionaires will not pay any inheritance tax and will pass on $5 trillion tax-free to the next generation.
  • The average tax rate on the richest has fallen from 58% in 1980 to 42% in OECD countries.
    Tax on capital gains – typically the most important source of income for the top 1% – are only 18% on average across more than 100 countries.

1 Inland Revenue, Tax and the Economic Income of the Wealthy, (April 2023) https://www.ird.govt.nz/-/media/project/ir/home/documents/about-us/high-wealth-research-project/hwi-research-project/factsheets-supporting-hwi-report/tax-and-the-economic-income-of-the-wealthy.pdf?modified=20230420234159 accessed on 31 August 2023

2 Max Rashbrooke, New Zealand’s millionaires pay lower tax rates than millionaires – it’s time to fix the system, (April 2023)  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/27/new-zealands-millionaires-pay-lower-tax-rates-than-cashiers-its-time-to-fix-the-system accessed on 31 August 2023

3 Oxfam Aotearoa, Aotearoa top 10 in global inequality index, but tax system’s inequality impact 136th, (October 2022)

https://www.oxfam.org.nz/news-media/media-releases/aotearoa-top-10-in-global-inequality-index-but-tax-systems-inequality-impact-136th/ accessed on 31 August 2023

4 https://www.sharingwealth.nz/

5 https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/survival-richest

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Rachel Schaevitz/ Oxfam Aotearoa Communications Manager / rachel.schaevitz@oxfam.org.nz

Unfair share report: Unequal climate finance to East Africa hunger crisis

Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan have incurred $7.4bn of livestock losses alone as a result of climate change

Despite being largely responsible for the worsening climate crisis in East Africa, rich nations paid Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan just $2.4 billion in climate-related development finance in 2021, in stark contrast to the $53.3 billion East Africa says it needs annually to meet its 2030 climate goals.

Oxfam’sUnfair Share Report published today, shows that the biggest polluting nations have fallen short of meeting both the climate and the humanitarian funds East African countries need to recover from their climate-fuelled hunger crisis. It highlights the impact of climate change on the future of the region.

Oxfam in Africa Director, Fati N’Zi-Hassane said: “Even by their own generous accounts, polluting nations have delivered only pittance to help East Africa scale up their mitigation and adaptation efforts. Nearly half the funds (45%) they did give were loans, plunging the region further into more debt.”

A prolonged drought and erratic rainfalls have killed nearly 13 million animals, and decimated hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops, leaving millions of people without income or food. These four East African countries have incurred up to an estimated $30 billion of losses from 2021 to the end of 2023. Oxfam calculates that these countries also lost approximately $7.4 billion worth of livestock.

As a result, over 40 million people across the four countries are suffering severe hunger because of a two-year drought and years of flooding, compounded by displacement and conflict. Despite the soaring humanitarian need, rich nations have only met about one third of the UN appeal for East Africa this year.

“At the heart of East Africa’s hunger crisis is an abhorrent climate injustice. Rich polluting nations continue to rig the system by disregarding the billions owed to East Africa, while millions of people are left to starve from repeated climate shocks,” said N’Zi-Hassane.

Industrialised economies have significantly contributed to the climate crisis, which now disproportionally affects regions like East Africa. The G7 countries and Russia alone have been responsible for 85 percent of global emissions since 1850. This is 850 times the emissions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan combined.

“Global financial institutions are also complicit in contributing to the debt spiral that many developing countries are in. Onerous repayment cycles (to IFIs, bilateral and private creditors) prevent vulnerable countries from adapting to climate change or fully recovering from these consecutive shocks, like climate-fuelled hunger crises..”

Extreme weather, now more severe and frequent, is the primary driver of hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and in part in South Sudan, where climate change has made the drought 100 times more likely.

“These pummelling shocks have depleted people’s reserves, leaving those already vulnerable with nothing to fend for themselves. Since the last drought in 2017, the number of people who need urgent aid across the four countries has more than doubled – from 20.7 million to 43.5 million,” said N’Zi-Hassane.

The climate crisis has taken its toll especially on women and girls. Women in Somalia told Oxfam they now have to walk more than four hours every day to fetch water, often in treacherous journeys – a significantly increased distance compared to previous droughts. Too often, when food is scarce, mothers eat last and least; and girls are the first to be dropped out of school or married off at a young age so there is one less mouth to feed.

Nimo Suleiman, a displaced mother of two from Somaliland, said “I have witnessed previous droughts but I have never seen anything like this before. The closest water point for us is five kilometers away, the road to the water point is not safe and very hot, but our family’s survival depends on us making that journey.”

“At the first African Climate Summit, Oxfam urges African leaders to speak up and hold rich polluting nations to account for this climate crisis. Rich nations must immediately inject funds to meet the $8.74 billion UN humanitarian needs for East Africa in order to save lives now,” N’Zi-Hassane said.

“It is equally crucial for the biggest polluters to pay their fair share of the money East Africa needs to strengthen its efforts to help its most vulnerable citizens prepare for the next climatic shock. These funds must be sustainable, in the form of grants rather than loans.”

“Leading up to COP28, African voices must be loud in demanding rich polluting nations to drastically cut their emissions, and to compensate East Africa for all their climate loss and damage so that the region can recover from these worsening climate shocks.”

Notes to the Editors

  • Read Oxfam’s “Unfair Share” report.
  • Oxfam is holding a roundtable at the African Climate Summit on 5 Sept .
  • The $2.4 billion figure is based on the OECD records of “Climate-related development finance” statistics reported figures in 2021 for Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, which capture both bilateral and multilateral climate-related external development finance flows. For more detail on the OECD methodology please see the OECD Methodology note.
  • Out of the total $2.4 billion funds provided, only $1.33 billion were in the form of grants (54.5%) while $1.09 billion were in the form of loans (45%). Source: OECD
  • The figure $53.3 billion is the four countries identified annual needed funds for the period 2021 to 2030, in their “National Determined Contributions” (NDCs) to enable them to implement their climate goals under the Paris Agreement. It includes: $62 billion for Kenya, $316 billion for Ethiopia, $55.5 billion for Somalia and $100 billion for South Sudan.
  • According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the East Africa region’s average annual loss from climate change until 2030 is 2-4% of its annual GDP. For Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, the total combined GDP in 2022 is $260 Billion.
  • Oxfam calculated livestock loss for Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia based on 2021 and 2023 estimates of the total government reported loss of 12.95 million heads of livestock – including 6.85 million livestock in Ethiopia, 2.6 million livestock in Kenya and 3.5 million livestock in Somalia. Ethiopia and Somalia have not provided an estimate of the value of the lost livestock. The approximate cost of per animal head in the region is $ 576.9, totalling $7.2 Billion for all 12.95 million livestock lost.
  • Food insecurity figures are based on IPC classification of the number of people in crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC3+) for Ethiopia (11.8 million), Kenya (5.4 million), Somalia (6.5 million) and South Sudan (7.7 million).
  • Humanitarian need figures is based on the 2023 UN Humanitarian Response Plans for Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan and Kenya.
  • Humanitarian need figures for 2017 are based on 2017 Humanitarian Response Document for Ethiopia; Somalia and South Sudan , and the 2017 Flash Appeal for Kenya.

Contact Information

Rachel Schaevitz, Communication Manager, rachel.schaevitz@oxfam.org.nz